tv The Situation Room CNN January 18, 2013 4:00pm-7:00pm EST
the big special, for the presidential inauguration 2013. we will cover it as cnn can from every which angle. we hope you join us from washington. and speaking of, i hear a certain someone is out of the studio and on the national wall for a special edition of the situation room, my colleague, wolf blitzer. wolf blitzer, take it away. brooke, thanks very much. happening now, deep concern about the fate of hostages. and new details about the so-called jihad prince who may be behind the terror attack in algeria. also, what else can he say? now that lance armstrong has admitted to doping, we will hear what he says to oprah winfrey again tonight. plus, our own martin savidge rides along as authorities break up an elaborate sex slave network right here in the united states. you will not believe the conditions the women had to endure. i'm wolf blitzer here on the
national wall in washington. behind me the west front of the u.s. capitol where president barack obama will take the oath of office on monday. we're counting down to the inauguration. you're in "the situation room." we begin with what we now know is the ongoing hostage crisis in algeria. right now it's unclear how many americans are being held by terrorists. but we do know the united states, the obama administration has rejected an offer to exchange an undisclosed number of american hostages. other hostages have been freed and hair he would winning new details are emerging about their treatment. for the details, let's bring in jill dougherty. she's over at the state
department. jill? >> wolf, just a few minutes ago here at the state department i was upstairs, secretary clinton meeting with the japanese foreign minister and both of them discussing this crisis in algeria. she said that she had spoken yet again with her algerian counterpart and she stressed once again, she said, the upmost concern they have is for the safety and security of the hostages. but when i asked her about the criticism that's being leveled by the united states and other countries against some aspects of this operation, the algerian operation, here is what she said. >> let's not forget, this is an act of terror. the perpetrators are the terrorists. they are the ones who have assaulted this facility, have taken hostage algerians and others from around the world who were going about their daily business. >> so a lot of passion in what the secretary was saying right
there. so some hostages have are been killed. some have sur survived and some are telling their stories. >> i don't remember. it happened so fast. it happened so fast. >> so fast? >> my heart goes out to the guys that are still there. it's only work, you know. >> but among the koushts whose citizens were seized by the terrorists, frustration at the violent operations spilling over. >> mr. speaker, we were not informed of this in advance. i was told by the algerian prime minister while it was taking place. >> officials from the u.s. and other countries also confirm they had no heads up on the operation, were provided contradictory information on the raid and the state of their citizens. >> let's not forget, this is an act of terror. >> the white house says president obama is receiving regular updates on the raid,
that the administration is in constant contact with the government of algeria and has been clear that our first priority is the safety and security of the hostages. defense secretary leon panetta says, he's putting the terrorists on notice. >> they will find no sanctuary, no refuge, not in algeria, not in north africa, not anywhere. >> but the demands of the group led by mokhtar belmokhtar is growing. they are demanding the release of omar currently serving a life sentence in the u.s. and a pakistani neuroscientist now in prison in the u.s. convicted of trying to kill u.s. soldiers and fbi agents in afghanistan. the obamaed administration,
however, is ruling out any negotiating with the terrorists. >> the united states does not negotiate with terrorists. >> again, this is an ongoing operation as far as we know, still conflicting information for a third day in exactly what is happening, how many people have been released, et cetera. but, wolf, you can certainly say that the countries that are involved and that includes japan, have been talking around the clock nonstop about this and coordinating their activities, which the secretary says is really key to this. >> jill doherty with the latest at the state department. thank you. experts say the terrorist attack was sophisticated and likely planned well in advance of this week. they are pointing to a man known as the so-called jihad prince as the possible mastermind. cnn's brianed to has been looking into this individual. what are you finding out? >> wolf, his name is mokht
mokhtar belmokhtar, known as a militant leader. he's one of the most wanted men in that region. he's got a lot of nicknames. each one bolstering the image of a seasoned militant. the jihad prince, the uncatchable, mokhtar belmokhtar is one of the most famous militant leaders. >> a half decade has emerged as a significant player within the al qaeda fold. >> canadian diplomat robert fou letter was held for months and gives his own menacing description. >> he's got a great scar through his eyebrow, across his eye, down his cheek lot of in his field. >> those kind of battlefield names gave him another nickname, one eyed. he grew up in the deserts of southern algeria. he fought with rebels in
afghanistan in the early owe 9 ohs and then devastating civil war. that group became al qaeda and the islamic maghreb. it was then that he received another nickname, mr. marlboro. >> he's called mr. marlboro because of his significant krci smuggling. >> a practice which allegedly made belmokhtar millions and maiden mes within al qaeda. because his gangster ways did not live up to the al qaeda idle, he he formed a commando group called those who sign with blood. that's the group that launched this activity in algeria. would he kill whatever hostages
are left? >> he has a track record of trying to get something out of every terrorist attack that he carries out and so just executing hostages has never really been his m.o. >> and there's a chance that belmokhtar may be wheeling and dealing again. the militants at that algerian gas facility are demanding the release of a well known pakistani militant as well as the so-called blind sheikh. wolf, lit or no chance -- really no chance they are going to get that in exchange for those hostages, as you know. >> yeah, i know that. is there any indication that this man belmokhtar has been on the ground at that gas facility near the libyan border leading this operation? >> we don't know that for sure at this point but the analysts
we spoke to, paul cruickshank say he's most likely conducting this from afar, in northern mali. paul cruickshank calls this the a team of the group. >> brian todd, thank you very much. how do negotiate with terrorists in such a tense situation? we're talking live with a former fbi hostage negotiator as well as cnn's national security adviser, fran townsend. up next, lance armstrong isn't done talking. we'll take a look at what he might say next to oprah winfrey. plus, just coming into "the situation room," our own soledad o'brien goes one on one with the u.s. supreme court justice sonia sotomayor. soledad is standing by to join us live. ♪ ♪
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lance armstrong spent years vehemently and aggressively denying the use of drugs to win seven tour de france titles. then, in a matter of seconds he admitted it was, quote, one big lie. his mea culpa came in an interview with oprah winfrey. it answered years of questions about how armstrong won the world's toughest race an astounding seven times in a row. that may be easy compared to how hard it will be to repair his had own reputation. cnn's ed leaf van dara is joining us from armstrong's home town, austin, texas. what are you picking up there, ed? >> reporter: wolf, one of the things that oprah winfrey said earlier this week is that at times this interview was
emotional. quite frankly, we didn't see much of that in last night's interview but they promised to talk more about lance armstrong's relationship with cancer survivors in the livestrong foundation. perhaps we'll see some of that emotion tonight. >> good morning, everybody. >> reporter: just after the u.s. anti-developing agency released its decision last october condemning lance armstrong as a doper, the cycling icon made his first appearance in one of the few safe places he had left. armstrong had just stepped down as the chairman of livestrong, days before the annual ride for the roses biking event in austin, texas. he was surrounded by more than 4 thourk cyclists, many of them cancer survivors. >> obviously it's been an interesting and as i said the other night, a difficult few weeks. people ask me all the time how are you doing and i tell them,
i've been better but i've also been worth. >> reporter: as the armstrong myth has unravelled, he's now often criticized for using his relationship with cancer survivors and the livestrong foundation to salvage his public image. it's been called the magic cancer shield. texas monthly magazine writer has profiled armstrong extensively. >> the foundation does this incredible work and then he uses this foundation as sort of a convenient shield sometimes. and so people here are skeptical on the one hand because of the way he does that but they are also still clearly impressed that he started this thing. >> you're still wearing the wristband? >> yep. >> reporter: cancer survivor worries the livestrong foundation will be hurt by armstrong's fall from grace. in 2007 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. is there any part of you that
thinks armstrong used his livestrong and cancer story to mask this darker side of him as a shield to protect himself? >> from my perspective, what we would want in terms of doping while he was riding, on the other hand, he also accomplished something that nobody else in the world has been able to accomplish for cancer survivors. >> reporter: but what many people are struggling to reconcile, despite lance armstrong's apologies for doping, is why a hero to so many people would act like such a bully. many watching the televised confession have little sympathy. >> he won't have the trust or respect of the city ever again. >> i'd like to think at some point that he would be forgiven but the reality is i think he burned those bridges a long time ago. >> i want to love lance. i still love him but i think it's really shady that he kept this from us for so long. >> reporter: two month ago, lance armstrong tweeted this picture of himself laying on his
couch surrounded by seven yellow tour de france jerseys. at the time, it was another shot of defiance and arrogance. now it looks more like a lonely snapshot of a fallen hero, the last person clinging to a decade of lies. and wolf, lance armstrong said last night that he tried to control the narrative of what was said about him in this mythical lance armstrong that existed for so long and inspired so many people and that's a reality and a now busted reality that many people are still struggling with and trying to reconcile, especially the millions of cancer survivors that have found so much hope and inspiration from the livestrong foundation. wolf? >> we're going to have a lot more on lance armstrong and later in "the situation room," ed leaf v. manti te'o says he was duped into falling in love with a fake
girlfriend. now new details emerging, new details calling into question how te'o handled the situation after learning about the girlfriend, that the girlfriend did not exist. susan candiotti is joining us from the latest from south bend, indiana. susan, be what else are you learning? >> reporter: wolf, we have found -- we have not been able to find anyone with a negative thing to say about manti te'o. for the most part, everyone here thinks he's a great guy, a role model to kids, team captain, as you know. but they are saying that back in the fall when he first announced that his girlfriend, now he believed to be the fake girlfriend, announced that she was dead, said there were already questions starting to swirl around campus wondering about the existence of this young woman. and i spoke to a sport blogger here at notre dame about that. >> and no one was ever really inquiring into his relationship statuses before. they didn't wonder which girls he was with or how that was
going. but when you hear that he lost a girlfriend, suddenly questions are, i didn't really know he had the girlfriend and that's when the news from people around him, players and friends, well, had he never actually met this girlfriend. so how substantial could that relationship be? >> reporter: and that student, like so many others, wants to hear from manti te'o himself. i had a chance to exchange messages with a teammate of manti te'o. his name is zeek mata and he didn't reveal how much he really knows about what happened, whether he spoke to his teammate in depth about it but told me, quote, manti is a great player, a great leader. he is an unfortunate and he's a great brother and friend. no one can really comment on this until they have all of the facts. that, of course, is what everyone is waiting for. manti has nod set when he would speak publicly about this. we did see him in florida.
he's been training down there in advance of the nfl draft in april. he's already graduated from notre dame. wolf? >> the news broke on a sports blog. the university has known about it for days. obviously te'o has known about it. so why did it break on a sports blog instead of the university or te'o himself making the announcement? >> reporter: well, notre dame is saying, it sure isn't the way we thought it would happen. remember, they were told, first of all, te'o announced it -- or found out about it on december 6th. it wasn't until december 26th, 20 days later after the christmas break, that he told the university. the university then started its own investigation, lasted about ten days and issued a report to the family on january 5th, told them what they learned. and they said it was their understanding that he was going to make an announcement about it next week but, of course, they were upstaged and here's how they addressed that at a news
conference. >> there was not an intention, a belief, anything that this would be a story that didn't get told. it was clear it would. we had hoped the first person to tell it would be manti and, again, the expectation was that was going to happen next week. and he didn't get that opportunity without someone else having told the story but at least have an opportunity to talk about it in the future. >> reporter: now, notre dame said that its own investigation did turn up some evidence that there were other targets involved. but i spoke with a spokesperson about this and he said it more or less had to do with some suspicious tweets that they showed up but they won't reveal what they learned. wolf? >> susan, thanks very much for that report. we're watching several other big stories, including a brutal, yes, a brutal attack on a subway platform. a woman beaten and then thrown on to the tracks. wait until you hear how this event unfolded.
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thousands of people will gather to see the president sworn into office for a second term. monday's ceremony is the second time that the president will take the oath. there's also a private ceremony at the white house on sunday which is the official inauguration day. cnn obviously will be covering both sunday events and monday events as the president starts a second term, a majority of the americans approve of the way he's handling his job. cnn's poll of polls found 63% approving of the president's performance, 42% disapprove. house republicans, meanwhile, are signaling that they are ready to give some ground in the debt fight. dana bash is joining us now. dana, are the republicans in the house of representatives blinking a little here? what's going on? >> a little, wolt if. they say they are going to have a vote that will delay the debt ceiling for three months.
so what they are doing, if you really look at house republicans who took the majority two years ago, they did it standing on principle for pretty much every squirmish. it seems that they are becoming a bit more sophisticated, rather, but their understanding, it seems, is that you have to pick your battles. losing credit ratings and so forth, that's not a smart battle to wage. look at some of the most conservative members of the house talking to deirdre walsh at the end of their retreat for three days about picking their battles in a better way. >> deal with the smaller ones first, maybe build up a little momentum, credibility, not only with the credit markets but with the folks back home, that we can actually deal with these things, take the small one first, debt ceiling last, i think it's a rational, reasonable thing to do. >> now, for some, wolf, maybe even those in the republican house leadership, like him
talking about what is rational and reasonable, that may be a bit jarring but the house republicans are coming out of their three-day retreat saying they have a better chance of reaching their goal of broad spending cuts. and that means not making the demand in the next few weeks, which is exactly what it would mean because, according to most economists, we will hit that debt ceiling mid-february. >> so here's the question, bottom line, is is this a sure thing? will congress actually vote to raise the debt limit next week? >> well, there is a catch. the house gop, the leadership at least says what they are going to try to pass next week would raise the debt ceiling for three months but with a condition. and that would be that the house and senate pass budgets. it may seem simple but house republicans like to point out that they haven't passed a budget in years. we already saw a carefully worded statement welcoming the gop move but also making clear he doesn't want conditions on
it. sources say they are not really sure how it's going to play out but so farther playing along. the white house is softening its hard line, too. jay carney said that he is, quote, encouraged. >> let's see how encouraging it all becomes. thanks so much for that, dana. as a tense hostage situation unfolds in algeria, serious questions about how or whether to negotiate with terrorists continuing right now. we're going to get some insight and analysis. plus, seven cities, four states, 100 federal offices and cnn is there as an alleged sex slave network is busted. our exclusive report. that's next. [ ryon ] eating shrimp at red lobster
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story, the deadly hostage crisis unfolding in algeria. cnn has just heard from an american worker who escaped on the first day of the siege. mark cobb, a resident of texas, told cnn that he's safe but not willing or able to say much more right now. the u.s. is resfrekting the militant group's reported offer to release an undisclosed amount of hostages in exchange for two prisoners. >> we are staying in close touch with our algerian partners and working with affected nations around the world to end this crisis. >> our national security contributor, fran townsend, is joining us right now as is the former fbi hostage negotiator,
christopher vas who is here with me in washington. fran, they say at least 12 hostages killed right now. what do you make of the algerian military response to this situation so far? >> well, we he know from both american officials and reports of other foreign officials who have sense who are part of the hostages taken have sort of implored the algerians to be careful. our way is to collect a lot of intelligence to try and negotiate first for their release and only to use a military-style raid as a last resort. obviously that's not what the algerians did. they did not coordinate with american or other officials. they launched this military raid. it's very risky because it does, in fact, put the lives of the hostages at risk and tragically, unfortunately, we're only now learning that some of the hostages have been killed. >> we're getting so much conflicting information. it almost seems like there's a
fog going on right now. is this typical in a situation like this, fran? >> well, you know, wolf, in any crisis you're always getting conflicting reports from the field but this seems worse than usual. american officials have told reporters that they were not consulted, they are not getting timely information. you know, sometimes journalists are learning about people escaping before american officials are getting sort of the official word. so i think there's a great deal of frustration on the american side and they really -- they are really hungry to make sure that they get to have some input before these decisions get made to put lives at risk. >> christopher, the americans -- the u.s. government, the obama administration says state department, they don't negotiate with terrorists. the terrorists say they are willing to free the americans in exchange for prisoners being held here. what do you do in a situation like this? what advice do you have? >> there's a difference between communication and concessions.
the u.s. doesn't make concessions. there should be lines of communication set up so they can gather information for tactical purposes, if you will. they can begin to understand what is going on behind the scene and find out where the pressure buttons are and what what they are worried about and take advantage of that. >> so if you were involved in this, what would you be doing? >> i would make contact, the bad guys and communicate sounds what is going on. >> what advice -- let's say family members are watching right now. what advice do you have for them? >> this is a horrifying time for them. the hardest thing for them to do is to sit tight. the fb. hostage negotiators are the people they need to be talking to so they understand what to do next. talk to the fbi. >> fran, let me play another clip from the secretary of state hillary clinton. she said this earlier today.
>> it is absolutely essential that we broaden and deepen our counterterrorism cooperation going forward with algeria and all countries of the region. >> do we have, the united states, effective counterterrorism measures in place, in north africa, in algeria, for example? >> you know, wolf, to be honest i was surprised to hear her say that. obviously things can always be improved and strengthened. going back to the bush administration, i can remember traveling throughout north africa, speaking to them about counterterrorism negotiation. the cia has long had relationships with services throughout that region and it includes sort of the cooperation and offers of cooperation and training that you might expect that they would need. so it may be now that the secretary is focused on broadening and deepening that relationship. but i will tell you there's been a concerted effort, because we've understood islamic maghreb and the threats that they pose, both regionally and
internationally. this has been a priority for some time. if there's more to be done, it's unfortunate we didn't begin that process before this tragic event. >> is there a situation, christopher, that could unfold the u.s. says it doesn't negotiate with terrorists, duntd make concessions to terrorists, won't release their prisoners in demand for the exchange of the hostages. i was speaking to a canadian and he was eventually released after about four month. he said the canadian government didn't make any concessions although maybe others made concessions that got him out. is that a game the u.s. might be willing to play right now? >> well, the u.s. will allow certain things to happen in order to save lives and these al qaeda and islamic maghreb, what they are about, they are kidnappers. they are funding al qaeda throughout the world for those operations. so a calculated use of some other inducement by a private party to get the families out money, blatantly. >> is that what they want, these
terrorists? >> ultimately if they trade, they will trade for money. they are business men. >> christopher voss, thank you for coming in. fran, thank you to you as well. we rarely hear from the united states supreme court justices, but up next, our soledad o'brien sits down with sonia sotomayor who will swear in the vice president on monday. her thoughts on the big moment and a lot more. that's next.
this weekend the vice president of the united states joe biden will be sworn in for his second term by u.s. supreme court justice that wasn't even a member of the court four years ago. we're talking about justice sonia sotomayor. she just spoke with our own soledad o'brien who is here at the national mall with me. not every day you get to speak with a supreme court. was it up at the supreme court? >> it was. >> pretty impressive. >> it's an amazing building and she's pretty remarkable to talk to. she has a book out. it's called "my beloved world" and it's about navigating a
world, she was born in poverty in the bronx would go to princeton and yale and work as a district attorney and then eventually end up as a supreme court justice. and she says that when she swears in joe biden on sunday, that it is, considering where she came from, absolutely stunning. >> i was thinking just a couple of days ago, if i think back at when i was a kid, which of the two events would have seemed more improbable to me, i realize each one was so far-fetched that i couldn't have imagined either. >> supreme court? >> supreme court, swearing in the vice president in front of the nation and the world. >> she has a reputation, of course, of being very tough on the lawyers who argue cases before her. she likes to use the word challenging.
and i asked her -- because she has a reputation of someone who really prepares. i want to know, how is she preparing for this? do you go home every night and memorize it, practice it in front of the mirror? you remember there was a little bit of a mess-up four years ago for the president. >> well, when you read my book, you know that i practice everything i do over and over and over again and so i have been saying the oath out loud for a couple of weeks now, a couple of times a day but i won't rely on my memory either. i'll have a card with me. >> she says she wrote this book to remember who she was and she has these important milestones in history, for instance, on sunday when she helps swear in vice president joe biden, she wants to be able to, she says, look back in five years or ten years and 20 years and remember, if she forgets, where she came from. now, ultimately, she's a girl from the bronx. >> and she's got an amazing
story. forget about all of the supreme court stuff, just growing up, telling that story of her family, what i've read about the book -- i haven't read the book yet. >> it's a wonderful book and you're right, she's a story of first in many instances. >> as we say, only in america. >> that is true. that is true. soledad, thank you very much. much more of soledad's sit-down interview with sonia moet sotomayor monday morning. watch it live here at 8:00 a.m. eastern only on cnn. getting word of an american worker at that algerian gas facility telling cnn he escaped the siege by islamic militants. cnn's david mattingly is joining us on the phone with new information that you're getting. david, tell us where you are and what you're learning. >> wolf, this is the second
american we've been able to positively identify as part of that siege. his name is mark cobb and he spoke to us -- communicated to us through a couple of brief text messages. he told us in the first text message, he said, i am safe. yes. and then he explained that he is escaped with some algerian staff who were at the plant with him at the time and this happened on the first day of the siege. he wasn't willing to comment any further beyond that because of how dangerous the situation still is for the others involved. his name is mark cobb. he's believed to be in texas f that is truly the case, be he is the second texan that we know of that was in that facility at the time, the second man still not being -- his name still not being publicly released. we're not reporting it even though we've spoke to family members that this second man was taken hostage at the time. no change in his situation at
the moment. but right now we have confirmed the identity of a second american there wloez name is mark cobb. he's described as a general manager of a bp joint venture there in algeria but, again, to repeat his text message to us, i am safe. yes. wolf? >> that's good to know that he is safe. do we have any idea how many americans, david, are -- were taken, how many are still being held, how many are released? >> we are seeing numbers coming from algeria but the united states state department has been reluctant to put a credibility in the actual numbers coming out. so at the moment we are just waiting to see what we can find out here on the ground from families here in the u.s. that are waiting because the information is going directly to them, either from the state department or from bp, the operator of the plant there.
so at this point, out of the americans that were there, we do know definitely of two we have identified them. one is safe and one at this moment is still believed to be a captive there. >> all right. we'll stay in close touch with you. thank you for breaking that news here on cnn. it was dubbed operation dark night. the alleged sex slave ring operating here in the united states. martin savidge has exclusive information. that is coming up.
we like to think our country did away with slavery after the civil war. but way too many come to the united states to become sex slaves. martin savidge went along in a sting to break up one of those trafficking rings. here's his exclusive report. >> reporter: 5:15 a.m., operation dark night is living up to its name. in south savannah and a half dozen other kmurn teas in four states, more than 100 federal officers head out to hit 16 different sites at exactly the same time. that's critical because authorities believe all of the locations are linked.
agents hoped to take down an entire alleged sex slave network in a single blow, 25 minutes from now. >> when it comes down to going in, they will be focused. especially a case like this where they are hoping to rescue someone. >> reporter: because the case involves suspected human trafficking of women, mainly from mexico and nick war ga, it was fast tracksed over six months. home lanltd security, i.c.e., fbi, dea, local authorities, even the coast guard. >> the transportation took place, right? >> reporter: the entire operation coordinated from the eighth floor of a downtown savannah office building. >> there's some anticipation. the adrenaline flows and you're hoping that you have everyone out there is safe. >> reporter: the teams strike at exactly at 6:00 a.m. the entry team has already gone in. we're waiting for the all clear so we can have a closer look. authorities lead out the man that they say is the prostitution's men leader. and then one of the girls he has
said to have enslaved. he goes one way and she another. according to the federal indictment, some of the women were forced to have sex with clients 25 to 30 times a day. in the apartment agents find a 10 by 12 foot box constructed of wood and insulation. they believe it's where the woman, here, was forced to work and live. even to investigators, it's a new low. >> it drives me insane that these women -- their every day life would be a hellish nightmare for any individual. so, yeah, i get a little mad sometimes. >> reporter: 12 miles away, another federal team with an arrest warrant pulls into a subdivision full of school businesses and children. the alleged customers. >> they are the demand. they are the reason that the services is being provided. if there were no johns, there wouldn't be this problem. >> reporter: the is suspects in this case will eventually end
newspaper a jail but the victims, they'll end up here at a hotel. it's where i find alea waiting for them. she's a federal victims assistance specialist. >> i've been working specifically with survivors of human trafficking for about eight years now. >> reporter: hers is perhaps the hardest job, easing these women nool a life of freedom. >> nationally, there's some hesitation because we are a complete stranger. we are affiliated with law enforcement but our job is to try to build that rapport, try to put them at ease and hopefully be able to assist them and assist the case that we have going on. >> reporter: the operation's over before lunch. at least 50 people are take neen custody and 11 women freed. authorities call it a good day. >> this isn't the end to human trafficking. this is a worldwide phenomena and sadly it goes on as we speak. got to attack it relentlessly every, every day. >> reporter: as for the women rescued in this case,
authorities know that they entered the country illegally. they also know that wasn't their fault. and investigators say that they will be granted a special visa which will allow them to remain in this country in they wish for the foreseeable future. martin savidge, cnn, savannah. >> authorities say they hope to free more women from this sex-trafficking ring as well as make some additional arrests. in addition to his reputation, lance armstrong's admission could also have a huge impact on his wallet. you're going to meet the man who's been announcing inauguration parades at the same time since the 1950s. stand by. see life in the best light. outdoors, or in. transitions® lenses automatically filter just the right amount of light. so you see everything the way it's meant to be seen. maybe even a little better.
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might seem routine, it takes practice. that's why every four years, without one week before inauguration day comes rehearsal day. marching bands, members of the military and the secret service all descend on the parade route in washington to shepherd a mock motorcade from the capitol to the white house. you can see behind me this silver suburban which is two vehicles behind us, about a block behind us, that is the stand-in for the president's limo and inside there is a stand-in for the president himself. you have to get off of the parade route. >> this is the man cave. >> reporter: and take a trip to the basement of charlie brautman. >> president barack obama. >> reporter: the spri 85-year-old washington broadcaster has served as the
announcer of every inaugural parade since eisenhower in 1957. he's coming up on 15 in a row. he's got a half century of memories to go with all of his parade scripts. >> one of the things that i found out over the years is that the inaugural parade is an extension of the president's personality. >> ask not what america will do for you. >> reporter: with kennedy and reagan came celebrities. >> see, as the announcer, i get a really good charge of rubbing shoulders with famous people and so that's what happens. >> reporter: but obama, brotman says, is different. >> what he does, his selection is from the heart. he's bringing in high school bands, college bands that have never been in a parade much less a presidential inaugural parade.
so he's making it possible for these kids to have a memory they will remember forever. >> reporter: carter made his mark by being the first president to walk the parade route. >> must have been a shock to you. >> it was indeed. >> reporter: reagan, brotman says, saved his second parade by moving it indoors out of frigid temperatures. >> the presidential inaugural commission basically said, we can't have these kids come out here and subject them to the freezing and frostbite. so let's cancel the whole thing. and that's when president reagan said, wait a second, let's not be too hayste stee with this decision. >> reporter: brotman knows he approaches the viewing stand
before the president. >> when i say, now advancing to the presidential reviewing stand, the united states marine corps band, he knows when to salute, when to put a hand over the heart, he knows, you know, when to applaud. >> reporter: he's taking his cues from you? >> that's exactly right. >> reporter: that doesn't happen too much here in washington. >> no. >> reporter: you get to do it. >> i get to do it. >> reporter: from his former day job as stadium announcer for the washington senator's baseball team, brotman quickly became friends with many of the presidents he served. nixon gave him this autographed baseball. clinton gave him a hug. >> he grabs me with the shoulder like this and brings me in like this. >> reporter: it's no wonder charlie brotman has volunteered his voice to this american ritual. >> president jorks w. bush and first lady laura bush. >> reporter: sounds to me leak you wouldn't trade this for the
world, this experience that you have. >> if i had to, i would pay them to let me do it. i love it. >> charlie got his start as the announcer for harry truman way back in 1949. he was a student at the broadcasting school when the call came in and by 1957 he had the job from then on. wolf, he truly knows these parades better than the presidents themselves. >> what a great amount of history all there in one individual. thanks so much for that report. jim acosta cnn's coverage of the inauguration covers two days. join us both days starting at 9:00 a.m. eastern. and you're in "the situation room." happening now, hundreds of hostages are freed in algeria. but what about the americans? the u.s. is taking action. we have new information coming
in. lance armstrong admits he was a bully but kept repeating a big lie. why his confession may leave him open to some very big lawsuits right now. and we all remember when obama adviser david axelrod shafed his mustache. this hour, live, right here in "the situation room," alex castellanos follows his lead, leave losing the stache for a very good cause. we're live her in washington, d.c., where in three days president obama will take the oath of public office in front of hundreds and thousands of people. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
three days into a bloody ordeal clouded by chaos, we're beginning to learn dramatic new details about the fate of americans taken hostage in algeria. algeria state news agency says hundreds of hostages have been freed, including about 100 foreigners. many are still unaccounted for and a dozen are reported dead following an algerian military operation. the leader of the kidnappers has offered to release americans in a prisoner swap. the state department says no deal. let's go live to our pentagon correspondent barbara starr. barbara, what are you learning about the u.s. involvement in all of this right now? >> this situation remains violent and unstable three days into it. what we have learned is that u.s. air foft c-130 landed in algeria earlier today and left on board several wounded hostages who got out of the facility. reports are -- we are hearing
from a u.s. defense official, no americans on that flight but they were able to get some of the wounded out. thes medevac flights are very typical, sadly, a lot of experience from afghanistan and iraq. i have been on board them. they will be able to provide trauma medical care for these people should they have gunshot wounds, stab wounds, burns, any types of injuries. get them back to europe, get them treatment, get them on their way home to their families. earlier today, the british prime minister, david cameron, warned his country more bad news to come. he expects for british citizens involved in all of this. hinting broadly that there may be more fatalities amongst british citizens. a lot of frustration amongst various countries about the algerian military operation because it is so violent, because it has come so quickly as the takeover happened but the al engineer generals making it very clear, they will continue -- they want to do
everything they can to retake this facility and basically boot al qaeda out of there. wolf? >> barbara, the defense secretary leon panetta made some pretty tough statements today. i want you to listen to what he said. >> terrorists should be on notice that they will find no sanctuary, no refuge, not in algeria, not in north africa, not anywhere. those who would wantenly attack our country and our people will have no place to hide. >> having said that, barbara, what the defense secretary just said, easier said, i must say, than done. this is by no means an easy operation for the u.s. military. >> wolf, that's absolutely right. everyone is talking now about al
qaeda's new refuge across northern africa but how is the u.s. military, how is the obama administration in this coming up four years going to go after this new al qaeda refuge? these are very remote areas. the u.s. military has very few forces in the region and, look, they are going to need permission of countries to go in there if they are going to go into these places. algeria has made it clear it doesn't want help. and libya is it a country that basically has no coherent national military force, a lot of militias running many parts of libya. so to go after al qaeda, it's a nice set of words but a promise that may be very hard to live up to, wolf. >> certainly will be, barbara. thank you. an american worker at the algerian gas facility tells cnn he escaped on the first day of the siege by islamic terrorists. mark cobb, believed to be a
resident of texas, told cnn in a message that he's safe after escaping with some algerian staffers. according to his linkedin pain, he's manager of a joint venture in algeria. other news right now, it was a blunt and chilling confession to the world. lance armstrong admitting unequivocally to oprah winfrey that he repeatedly took performance enhancing drugs after more than a decade of fierce denials. >> yes or no, did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance? >> yes. >> yes or no, was one of those banned substances epo? >> yes. >> did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance? >> yes. >> did you ever use any other banned substances like testosterone, cortisone, or human growth hormone? >> yes. >> yes or no, in all seven of
your tour de france victories did you ever take banned substances or blood dope? >> yes. >> in your opinion, was it humanly possible to win the tour de france without doping, seven times in a row? >> not in my opinion. >> armstrong says he was a bully, describing how he treated those who tried to expose him. people he now acknowledges were, in fact, telling the truth about him. these lies could end up costing lance armstrong tens of millions of dollars. from those he sued in the past all the way up to his primary sponsor, the united states postal service right here in washington. our own lisa sylvester is adding up all of the numbers for us. she's joins us with details. what are you learning, lisa? >> lance armstrong carried on
this lie for more than a decade and now there are really two groups of people who could come after him for money. those who paid him large sums, his sponsors, an insurance company that paid out large winning bonuses after his supposed tour de france wins and then there are the people who he viciously attacked, trying to cover up his actions who are now likely to sue him. >> it did not even feel wrong? >> nope. scary. >> did you feel bad about it? >> no. even scarier. >> did you feel in any way that you were cheating? >> no. the scariest. >> many words come to mind watching lance armstrong's confession, tragic, liar, disgraced, and add one more,
expensive. his oprah tell-all opens up the floodgates for potential lawsuits. >> one big lie that i repeated a lot of times. >> more than a decade of deceit that now has to be cleaned up. first, his chief sponsor, the u.s. postal service. according to documents obtained by the cnn, the usps sponsorship for lance armstrong ran from 1996 until 2004. during that time, the agency shelled out more than $30 million. he's in talks to return some of that money. but there was also a whistle blower filed by friloyd landis. >> not only can the postal service ask for the $30 million in pay, it can ask for $90 million because in these cases, whistle blower cases, there's trouble damages. they don't have to be awarded but sometimes they are. that's why lawyers and plaintiffs love these cases because it's a huge payday if you persuade the judge. >> also in the cue, the british
newspaper, the sunday times. it is suing armstrong for $1.5 million, money paid out in legal costs after he sued the paper. the dallas insurance company, sca, is seeking to recoup at least $12 million it paid to armstrong in winning bonuses and legal fees. and potential libel lawsuits against lance armstrong. the cyclist by his own admission attacked those who questioned him, including the wife of a former teammate and former personal assistant. >> yeah. yeah. i was a bully. >> tell me how you were a bully. >> i was a bully in the sense that i tried to control the narrative. >> in 2005, sports illustrated ranked him as the eighth highest endorsement earner, pulling in some $17 million that year alone. his net worth now is reportedly about $100 million. but last year armstrong supporters, nike, anheuser-busch, dropped him and his current financial prospects,
not good, says sponsorship expert, jim andrews. >> the future marketability of lance armstrong is pretty much at zero at this point. there's really no reason for a mainstream brand like the companies that sponsored him before to really want to attach themselves to him at this point. so i think that that's a nonstarter. >> armstrong's can confession may be good for the soul but it will be terribly hard on his wallet. and, of course, the second half of that interview airs tonight on oprah's network, 9:00 p.m. eastern, 8:00 p.m. central. we are all just trying to find out the questions, why did he do it and, wolf, why did he do it for some long? wolf? >> lots of questions still have to be answered even though he answered some of them last night. thank you, lisa, for that. much more news coming up, including fighter jets that are scrambled in response to a possible hijacking but the object of the alert slept through it all. stand by.
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some very tense moments in the sky as an alert is triggered concerning an airliner bound from hawaii to seattle. cnn's sandra endo is piecing it all together for us. what happened? >> wolf, military jets responded to a possible hijacker on board a flight last night but instead of pursing the supposed
hijacker, now officials are turning the investigation towards someone else. >> two f-15 fighter jets scrambled to escort a passenger plane with a possible threat on board thursday evening. travelers didn't even notice their in-flight company. >> nothing was unusual, nothing out of the ordinary. >> as alaska air flight 819 took from off from kona to seattle, someone called the fbi saying that someone on board was a hijacker. the caller was credible enough to deem it credible. what happened? >> the flight crew was calm and atentative and never showed a sign of anything wrong at all. >> good evening tower to alaska 819. >> cleared to land. >> the plane landed safely in seattle where federal agents were waiting at the gate. alaska airlines says the passenger wasn't behaving oddly
and slept most of the flight. >> the only thing i saw is when the police came on the airplane and asked the lady next to him to get up and they took him outside. >> there really wasn't a whole lot that happened. it was pretty quick. >> agents say the passenger was shocked to fine out about the hijacking allegation and was cleared and released. the initial call turned out to be a hoax. authorities are now trying to track down the caller. the fbi says it gets all sorts of calls but credible threats like this one, which mentions specifics, are fairly rare and keep in mind, it's a federal offense to call in a fake threat. wolf? >> sandy endo, thanks so much for that update. nasa will use the same battery technology as the recently grounded boeing 787 dreamliner. li lisa sylvester is monitoring that. what do you have?
>> wolf, a nasa spokesman confirms to cnn that lithium ion batteries with the same guts as those in the dreamliner will power the international space station but the design is different and that nasa has rigorously tested them. the dreamliners have been grounded due to fire risks related to battery failures. nasa will start using the batteries in 2017. and we're closer to learning why an illinois man suspiciously died one day after collecting more than $400,000 from the lottery. a medical examiner says his body has been successfully exhumed for analysis. his death was first ruled to be from natural causes but his blood work was retested after receiving a call from an unnamed relative and examiners found cyanide. we'll know the autopsy results in the next few weeks. we are pretty sure thatly nar doe da vinci would like this next story. mona lisa has traveled to the
moon. the iconic paints has traveled 240,000 miles by laser beam to a satellite orbiting the moon. it marks the first time anyone has achieved one-way laser communication at planetary distances that could eventually change space communication as we know it. so that's pretty cool stuff. mona lisa certainly getting around, wolf. >> mona lisa on the moon. very cool, indeed. thank you. we're here in washington, d.c. we're on the national mall. the inauguration preparations are in full swing. will the president say something monday to ease some of the political bitterness around the nation? david axelrod and alex castellanos are standing by. they will join me on the nal nal wall and that is next. wall and that is next. nwall and that is next. atwall and that is next. natiwall and t. . . . .
we're only three days from the president's second term inauguration. we just got this, the official invitation that's sent to the v.i.p.s. we got some pictures and i think we'll show it to you eventually. you're looking at live pictures from the u.s. capitol. the senior adviser david axelrod, institute of politics, along with cnn contributor, the republican strategist, alex castellanos. we've got a big surprise with alex coming on. you'll appreciate that in a little bit. we're here on the national wall. >> yes. >> hundreds and thousands of people are going to be here over the next few days when he delivers his speech at noon on monday? >> i think the president is
aware that this is a national right. this isn't a celebration for one party or another. there's something sacred as americans about this ceremony where every year we swear in a president and it's a celebration of our democracy and so i think he'll be talking about princes and values that unite us and the path forward but not in specific ways. i don't expect him to stand up here and give a list of details when he has a state of a union speech in two weeks. >> this won't be a political speech, a policy speech, it will be a much broader speech, the history. >> that's what i expect. >> looking ahead, what do you want to hear? because it is an opportunity for the president to reach out and push the country together a little bit. >> it is. that's been sorely lacking, frankly, on both sides and it's an opportunity for republicans to put politics aside for a day and embrace something larger and that is the things we do share as a country. the peaceful transition of power but more than that, we have
different means of trying to get to a stronger, better, more prosperous country but we all want the same thing. maybe one day every four years we should remember that. and i think republicans -- it would be a smart political thing for republicans to embrace it that way. >> the republicans today -- at least the house republican leadership, they came up with an olive branch, a three-month extension raising the debt ceiling without a whole lot of pr preconditions, a positive statement coming from jay carney saying that we are encouraged that there are signs that congressional republicans on holding our economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in medicare that middle class families depend on. it was positive from the white house. pretty negative response from nancy pelosi, the democratic leader in the house. this pros poll sas, she says, does not relieve the uncertainty
faced by the middle class. this is a gimmick unworthy of the challenges we face and the national debate we should be having. the message for the american people is clear, no gauges, no default. is there a lack of coordination in the response between pelosi and the white house? >> look, i think both sides are true. it's positive that the republicans and the congress are backing off of that threat. it's also true that we can't go in three-month increments having a debate about whether we're going to pay our bills and whether we're going to jeopardize the full faith and credit of the united states of america. we need to work this through, find a long-term solution for this and bring some certainty to the economy. >> i'm not sure i'd say it's an entirely positive statement from the white house saying that, gee, republicans need to stop holding a gun to americans' head. that's true. but of course that's not what is happening. we've spent the money and this is is a few check mechanisms that we have to control
spending. so it's a fairly partisan assault but what you're seeing republicans in the house do, wolf, is retreat. you don't attack in politics from a position of weakness. you attack from a position of strength. we don't have the political strength and support of the country. the party is going to have to change and move forward. before it can do that, hey, sometimes when you're losing, you retreat and live to fight another day. >> and i think the polling that we've seen in the last few days, wolf, support what alex just said. the republican party brand is very, very beaten up. i think part of the reason is this kind of brinksmanship. >> they are meeting at a retreat right now. they are doing some soul searching. have you heard anything that is going on over there among the republicans? >> i don't think it was the best idea ever to have the outreach to the minorities meeting. that may not have gone over well. but, you know, when you hit bottom, there's nowhere to go but up but you're seeing a lot
of republicans -- you know, this country is built on the principles of liberty and freedom and all of us having an opportunity to lead our own lives, not to what to do be doing by washington. republicans are forever fresh. how do we communicate them to a new generation of voters and in the communication age, not the industrial age? how do we move forward and talk about building this economy up bottom up instead of artificially from washington? that's what republicans are talking about. i think you're going to see a very different generation of republican in two years. >> guys, stand -- quickly? >> i was going to say, i wonder when they had that seminar for women whether they talked about not having washington make decisions for them. that would be a step forward for the republican party. >> it's something to talk about and i think they had that one in the ward cleaver room. >> already. stand by for a moment. a moment you've all been waiting for, alec castelannaos is going
to do what david axelrod did. take a look at that mustache. that mustache that he's had for, what, 41 years -- that beautiful mustache is about to go but for a very good cause. stand by. push-ups or sprints? what's wrong with fetch? or chase? let's do this larry! ooh, i got it, i got it! (narrator) the calorie-smart nutrition in beneful healthy weight... includes grains and real chicken, because a healthy dog is a playful dog. beneful healthy weight. find us on facebook to help put more play in your day.
his mustache live in "the situation room" and he's doing it for a very, very good cause. >> well, that mustache goes away. >> no shrinking. >> it started with a man on the other end of the political spectrum, david axelrod, the top adviser who's twice helped president obama win the white house. last november, he vowed to shave off the mustache he's had for 40 years if donors contributed $40 million to 2013 cure. the axelrod daughter's lauren suffered her first ep lep particular seizure when she was a baby and by the time she reached age 20, she had up to 25 a day. in the year 2000, a new drug finally brought lauren epilepsies under control. still, the axelrods do everything they can to raise
money for research. david's slash the stache fund-raiser was a success, bringing in $1 million for a cure. >> are your friends at the white house watching, david? >> laughing, i'm sure. >> that same afternoon in "the situation room," alex castellanos put his clippers on the line. >> we're going to try to raise more money for cure, it's such a wonderful charity, that if we can raise another 500 contributions between now and the beginning of the year, well -- >> right here in "the situation room." it's too late. >> we're going to show that bipartisanship does still live in washington and we'll get rid of this mustache. >> david and alec exceeded their goal, 524 donors gave more than $115,000 to the fight against epilepsy and now alex castellanos is about to say
good-bye to his long-time facial fix stur. >> how long have you had yours? >> it's a cuban thing. >> that's a big deal to shave that mustache. >> this is worse than taking away your cigars if you're cuban. >> alex is here, kate, david is here -- >> yes. >> our grooming expert is here, the mustache is still there. i see it right there. it's about to go. >> i'm feeling weaker. >> do you have any final words? >> i have only one stache to give. no. it's truly to be able to do -- when you see what the folks have done, david, his family and so many folks like that, happy to do it. i can't believe cnn would engage in this anti-cuban discrimination by taking off my mustache. >> for an excellent cause. >> happy to do it. >> david, do you have any advice? >> you know, just close your eyes. it will be over in no time and you'll wake up tomorrow, you won't know what happened but
eventually it will feel good. >> all right. our grooming expert is here. take it away. >> let's see what you can do. >> all right. go ahead and close your eyes. this will be painless. >> david, what was going through your mind at this very moment? >> well, i asked for drugs at the last minute. so it wasn't -- you have to understand, i've had mine for 40 years. i know what he was going through. i didn't know what life would be like. it turns out it's okay. >> alec, i spoke with your daughter before. she said she's more excited than she is nervous and she's just nervous that you're going to be really pale under there. >> well, my wife has just informed me that she's been waiting to see me without a mustache since we've been married which to me indicates some level of dissatisfaction. >> i think i see young americans for freedom tattoos under there. is that true? >> reagan for president. >> david, didn't your wife say the same thing when she saw you without a mustache? >> she said, i always hated that
thing anyway. we've been married 33 years. you waited until now to tell me? >> our gender has no shot when women that have kind of patience. >> i'm going to steam up your face a little bit to loosen up your beard. >> tell us what you're doing. >> i'm putting some steam on alex's face to loosen up the hairs there. he hasn't shaved that area in quite a while. and so now what i'm going to do is apply a product called easy shave on his face. >> what does that do? >> it's a clear product that is translucent and especially for weather like this because we're shaving outside in cold weather. >> on tv. >> that's not good? >> it is good. you're going to see it's going to -- it's going to go on very clearly and -- >> here we go. >> all i can tell you, my guy hacked me. you've got a really sensitive glsh that's right, david. >> we're going to start shaving away. >> take a deep breath.
>> the beauty of this stuff is it makes it even weaker. >> he was trying to -- i think he was trying to fake the flu a couple of minutes ago. >> this is a translucent product. it's lifting up the hairs and it's going to make my life easier when i -- >> how about his life? >> close your mouth. go like this for me. >> one last thing. david's boss already took my shirt. now david's taking my mustache. >> go like this. >> perfect. al al al alex castellanos not being able to talk right now. a lot of pressure on you prz. >> not at all. >> brings back memories for you, david, huh? >> it does. >> david, your mustache is gone forever? >> i was actually surprised, i wonder if you were going to keep
it. >> she's got to look at me more than doi. >> susan's got a lot of control. very good, susan. susan is here as well, david axelrod's wife who is a co-founder of the cure. >> i must say mine came off easier, though. >> it was ready to go. >> it's his cuban mustache. >> you only had yours for 30 years. >> 40 years. i was up there. >> here we go. the suspense is killing me. bipartisan at its best. david, remind our viewers what this money goes for that was raised for this slash the stache. >> it's going to fund research, cutting edge research. we fund grant all over the world, new ideas, new approaches that might spare the kind of problems that my daughter's gone through. 50,000 people a year lose their lives. >> 50,000 people. >> a year. so this is a serious, serious problem and we need answers and
just the money that alex raised will keep a researcher going for a year and that's really significant. because we never know which of these grants is going to be the one that makes a difference. >> exactly. tell our viewers if they want to help whark they can do. >> i think slashthestache is still active or they can go to cure epilepsy online. >> i think i see a finished product. >> now we're beginning to see something. >> we're going to put a product on called happy ending. we believe every shave deserves a happy ending. >> this shave took a very dangerous turn, i believe, everyone. you keep your mouth shut. you just stay there. all right.
>> very smooth. >> wolf is ready to sit in the chair. >> no. no. >> just go after mustaches. sully sullenberger is next. >> more happy ending over there? >> a little bit. >> this is becoming a delirious -- >> exactly. prz, let's see the finished product. ladies and gentlemen, alex castellanos. take a look at the monitor, alex. >> lent. >> beautiful. absolutely beautiful. what do you think, cat? >> she says, it's a little strange, it's going to take me a while to get used to it. >> take a close look, wolf. >> wow. >> i've got to find out whether wha a kiss feels like. >> what do you guys think back there? they like it back there? >> what do you think?
>> they love it. they love it. >> right in the shadow of the capitol, too. a major historical event. >> go to slashthestache.com. >> thank you very much for doing that. david axelrod, it was your idea, right? >> i got him into this mess. >> he's a good man. >> thank you vi much. >> you both look very handsome. >> thank you. >> good work all around. we'll take a quick break. more from the national mall right after this. stress sweat. it can happen any time, to anyone!
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we're back here on the national mall getting ready for the second innal grags for the president of the united states. it's a beautiful, beautiful evening here in the nation's capital. maybe a little more beautiful because alex castellanos is here without his mustache. >> i feel completely naked. >> david, what do you think? >> i think he looks great and beyond looking great he's a great guy. >> we have a special guest calling in. a former governor of the united states, governor of florida, governor jeb bush is calling in. governor, what do you think
about the new and improved alex castellanos? >> if he paints his hair and loses a little weight, co-go on television. >> what do you think? have you -- i've never seen him without the mustache. >> he looked great. the whole office here down in miami is saying, this guy is good looking. his smile looks a lot better, that's for sure. i think this is going to help sustain his television career for sure. >> governor, i know you always hoped there was some way to improve me. >> i must say, the governor helped -- he contributed to -- he advanced the cause, both of alex -- we're really grateful to him as well. >> there are things that republicans, democrats can and gri on even today and governor, that was so nice of you to do. >> congratulations on your -- >> excuse me?
>> i was going to say, governor, you've seen david action axelrod and alex sitting here. >> there's enough in our history to suggest that it will and david congratulations on a great campaign. there's a pause in the action right now. this is the time to celebrate our democracy and celebrate the president's re-election. we'll be back at you some time soon but now is the time to take a little time off and be great that we're american. >> i know you will and i also know there are some issues in which we all ought to be able to work together. one of the things that i appreciate about you is that you've been able to do that, say that. it's important for the country. >> i think it's important for all of us to see this little goodwill, even if it's brief, especially around an historic moment like this right now. any final words you want to offer alex, governor, before you
go? >> i had a huge mustache and didn't cut it until i was 26 because i wanted to look old and then i cut it off because i already was older looking and now alex will get a new lease on life. david, you look pretty good there, too. i think you're going to enjoy it. >> so that's the key to success, huh? >> you feel stronger, too, without that mustache? >> not just yet. i'm a little wobbly. it's cold up here now. >> governor, thanks very much for calling in for an excellent cause. we'll all try to cure epilepsy if we can. >> thank you, wolf. and thank you again, alex. we've got more news coming up here in the situation room. many of the nation's mayors have very, very strong feelings on a lot of issues, including gun control. up next, the mayor of los angeles, antonio lagrosa, he has
audience. the vice president joe biden told hundreds of mayors yesterday that they know, as well as anyone, the impact of gun violence and that they've t attend way too many funerals. joining us now is the mayor of los angeles, antonio villaraigosa. you've made some specific proposals to the vice president of this task force. any proposal you made that didn't make the cut? >> first of all let me just say something -- repeat what the vice president said. we actually have to attend funerals. we actually have to talk to families who have lost a father, a mother, a brother. that's the difference between mayors and members of congress. this isn't ideological or abstract for us. this is real. we lose tens of thousands of people, primarily young men, primarily people of color, every year to gun violence. and we've got to do something about it. we don't have to do something
that violates the second amendment. but we have to do things that are safe, that are responsible, that are practical and that move the country forward. that's what the mayors are advocating. >> is there something you wanted the vice president to include in these proposals that didn't make it? >> what i'll say is this -- i think some states will go further. california will, as an example. >> give me a specific example, the number of rounds in the clip? >> no. they talked about high capacity magazines as well. >> they want ten? >> yeah. and i think we could go to seven. but ten is a good place to start. in california, we're actually having conversations about making it -- having background checks to be able to buy ammunition because a lot of the people that have these guns who we haven't been able to locate are actually buying ammunition. and we should be able to track that. >> what about gun buybacks? there's proposals that the city could buy some of these guns, less opportunity for gangs, for
example, to get guns. >> we've advocated gun buybacks. i did one the day after christmas. got about 2,000 guns. even a grenade launcher. yes, that's an area that we can work on. universal background checks, that's something we absolutely have to do. 40% of all sales of guns are done between private dealers that don't require a background check. more coordination between states, cities and the federal government, very, very important. really having strong databases for the mentally ill, very, very important. and doing something to address gun trafficking and what they call the straw purchasers. this is someone like you and i who could qualify to buy a gun, then buys that gun and sells it to someone who can't. >> these gang guys, whether in l.a., chicago or new york -- any place, where do they get these guns? >> at gun shows, from private sellers, they steal them. that's why safe storage and
trigger locks are important. they get them because we have big loopholes in our laws and we have a federal government that's been missing in action when it comes to safe, responsible gun legislation. and i want to say something about the second amendment and these assault weapons. when we passed the second amendment a couple hundred years ago, there weren't assault weapons back then. the notion we're violating the second amendment doesn't pass the smell test or the history test. and by the way, if you're a sports enthusiast and a hunter and you need a high capacity assault weapon to shoot a deer, you're in the wrong sport. >> very quickly, on immigration reform, which is another subject close to your heart. you saw marco rubio, the senator from florida's proposals, are you on board with him? >> he's making progress. i salute him for that. he's got the courage to taken o his own caucus and say, we need comprehensive immigration reform.
we need a pathway for citizenship. there's probably a difference of opinion on how long it takes to earn that legalized pathway to citizenship. but it's a great start. i'm looking forward to a partner, senator mccain, lin graham and now marco rubio joining the very important debate and the conversation about how we fix this broken immigration system. >> you're going to have an alliance with lindsey graham, senator mccain and senator rubio, you might get some comprehensive immigration reform. >> i hope so. tasteless or tribute? up next, we have some information on the growing controversy behind the very unlikely pairing of fashion models with the superstorm sandy first responders. [ male announcer ] when we built the cadillac ats from the ground up to be the world's best sport sedan... ♪ ...people noticed. ♪
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these could be signs of rare but serious side effects. ♪ is your cholesterol at goal? talk to your doctor about crestor. [ feme announcer ] if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help. take a look at this, a special edition of our inauguration preparation hot shots as we look at a live picture of the u.s. capitol. in maryland, the air force band plays during a rehearsal at joint base andrews. on the national mall, two policewomen patrol the area on horses. in washington, volunteers take part in an inauguration parade
practice. also here in washington, blankets are available for staffers working outside at cnn's inauguration site to help keep themselves worm. hot shots, pictures coming in from around the nation's capital. when you think about honoring the heroes of superstorm sandy, this provocative magazine spread may not necessarily be what comes to mind. mary snow joins us with details on the controversy it's generating. mary, what's going on? >> reporter: this is meant as a tribute. featured photos with first responders, con-ed workers and hospital staff is gaining attention. the question being raised, is it just edgy or offensive? couture meets crisis. annie leibovitz shot the pictures in december, more than a month after sandy hit.
but some online critics question the mix of sex appeal on sandy and whether "vogue" went too far. on the magazine's facebook page, one woman writes, what is there to celebrate when people are still suffering? looks like leibovitz never let a crisis go to waste. new yorkers we asked had mixed opinions. >> i felt it was a little exploited. i didn't particularly like the idea. i figure these are very dedicated people. and i don't see the purpose of the models being there, just kind of downplayed it to me for what these men have done. i wasn't happy with it. >> i actually thought it was cool. i never look at fashion stuff at all. i'm not a fashion guy. but i think it's nice if people can take a bad situation and make something positive from it, if it is just models standing with the first responders. >> reporter: "vogue" in a statement said, we chose to celebrate the hard work of the teams who responded to the crisis in a way appropriate to
the context of a fashion magazine. and "vogue "points out it wasn't on the sidelines after sandy hit. with the american fashion industry based here in new york, "vogue" says it worked with designers in raising $1.7 million for victims' recovery efforts. there have been no complaints from the people photographed with the models. the fire department says "vogue" put a spotlight on the great work of its members. regardless of personal opinion, it certainly has gotten people talking. wolf? >> certainly has. mary snow, thank you. happening now, new details of the hostage crisis unfolding in algeria, including the fate of some americans. what the militants are demanding and why the obama administration is growing increasingly frustrated. also, huge fallout from the lance armstrong interview. we'll get reaction from a former teammate-turned doping
whistle-blower. and we'll talk about it with judy smith, an expert in crisis public relations who inspired the tv drama scandal. i'm wolf blitzer here on the national mall. behind me, the west front of the u.s. capitol. president obama will take the oath of oath there on monday. we're counting down to the inauguration. you're in "the situation room." but first, the deadly drama unfolding right here -- right now, i should say, in the desert of eastern algeria. hostage rescue operation apparently still under way. an unknown number of captives are being held by militants who seized hundreds of people at a gas field near the libyan border, including a number of americans and other foreigners. we know many of the hostages
have, in fact, been released. some managed to escape. but others are dead, others are still missing. and we've just received word that algerian forces are now trying to negotiate the release of the remaining hostages. cnn's foreign affairs correspondent jill dougherty is over at the state department. what's the latest information you're getting? >> reporter: wolf, secretary clinton says that the u.s. remains deeply concerned about those hostages who are still in danger. she's already expressed her condolences to the families of hostages from a number of countries who have died. but exactly how many died, how many survived still isn't known. the secretary of state's voice betrayed the tension as the hostage situation stretched into day three. >> let's not forget, this is an act of terror. >> reporter: the algerians warned clinton the situation was fluid and hostages remained in danger. clinton relayed u.s. concerns. >> i spoke with the algerian
prime minister again this morning to get an update on this very difficult situation and to underscore again that the utmost care must be taken to preserve innocent life. >> reporter: algeria said 12 hostages already have been killed during the operation, hundreds have been freed or escaped. the french said one of those was theirs. but little information still on the fate of the approximately eight americans, some of whom are still being held. in the midst of the chaotic algerian operation, the u.s. is trying to evacuate americans who had been freed. a military c-130 earlier friday took 12 wounded out. but a u.s. defense official says none were american. and other released hostages have begun telling of their ordeal. >> very, very relieved to be out. >> it happened so fast. >> my heart goes out to the guys that are still there and hopefully everyone comes home safe.
because at the end of the day, it's only work, you know? >> reporter: but among the countries whose citizens were seized, frustration is spilling over at the algerian government's violent operation. >> mr. speaker, we were not informed of this in advance. i was told by the algerian prime minister while it was taking place. >> reporter: officials from the u.s. and other countries say they had no heads-up on the operation, were provided contradictory information on the raid and on the status of their citizens. the white house says president obama is receiving regular updates on the raid, that the administration is in constant contact with the government of algeria and has been clear that our first priority is the safety and security of the hostages. the u.s. defense secretary put the terrorists on notice. >> they will find no sanctuary, no refuge, not in algeria, not in north africa, not anywhere.
>> reporter: but the demands of the group led by mokhtar belmokhtar are growing. release of two high-profile figures held in the u.s., the so-called blind sheikh who's serving a life sentence planning terror attacks in the u.s., and a pakistani neuroscientist convicted of trying to kill americans in afghanistan. the obama administration is ruling out any deal. >> the united states does not negotiate with terrorists. >> reporter: and one american who was at that site when it was attacked by the terrorists tells cnn that he escaped the very first day. his name is mark cod, believed to be a resident of texas. and he sent a message to cnn saying that he escaped with some algerian staff. but that he cannot speak to the media at this point and he won't disclose his location. wolf? >> jill dougherty at the state
department, thank you. we're also learning disturbing new details about the man believed to be behind the siege. among his nicknames, the jihad prince. we'll have a closer look at this militant leader. that's coming up later this hour. other news we're following right now, if lance armstrong was hoping for some redemption after his highly anticipated interview with oprah winfrey, he's probably disappointed today. kate bolduan is here with more on this part of the story that everyone is talking about. >> everyone's talking about this story. as expected, he admitted using performance-enhancing drugs to fuel his cycling career. but his evasiveness and demeanor in the interview is not sitting well with many. cnn's ed lavandera is in armstrong's hometown of austin, texas. ed, what are you hearing there? >> reporter: kate, the reactions to lance armstrong's appearance in the oprah winfrey interview last night, rather critical of lance armstrong. but tonight's portion of the interview seems to be ready to touch on a much more complex and delicate part of his
relationship, with cancer survivors and the livestrong foundation. and that will be a rather interesting part of this to watch. many people who have applauded lance armstrong for what he's done in this area, this humanitarian area for more than a decade, applaud him. but there are many critics who say he's used this to kind of help his public image. just after the u.s. anti-doping agency released its reason decision report last october condemning lance armstrong as a doper, the cycling icon made his first public appearance in one of the few safe places he had left. armstrong had just stepped down as the chairman of livestrong days before the foundation's annual ride for the roses charity biking event in austin, texas. he was surrounded by more than 4,000 cyclists, many of them cancer survivors. >> obviously it's been an interesting and as i said the other night, at times very difficult few weeks. people ask me a lot, how are you doing? and i tell them, i say, i've
been better. but i've always been worse. >> reporter: as the lance armstrong myth has unraveled over the years, he's now often criticized for using his relationship with cancer survivors and the livestrong foundation to salvage his public image. it's been called the magic cancer shield. texas monthly magazine writer michael hall has profiled lance armstrong extensively. >> the foundation does this incredible work. then he starts to kind of use this foundation as kind of a shield, a convenient shield sometimes. and so people here are skeptical on the one hand because of the way he does that. but they are also still clearly impressed that he started this thing. >> reporter: you're still wearing the wristband? >> still have my wristband. >> reporter: not taking that off? >> no. >> reporter: this cancer survivor worries the livestrong foundation will be hurt by lance armstrong's fall from grace. in 2007, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. is there any part of you that
thinks that lance armstrong used his livestrong and cancer story to mask this darker side of him as kind of a shield to protect himself? >> from my perspective, regardless of what it is that he did that wasn't what we would want in terms of doping while he was riding on the other hand, he also accomplished something that nobody else in the world has been able to accomplish for cancer survivors. >> reporter: but what many people are struggling to reconcile, despite lance armstrong's apologies for doping, is why a hero to so many people would act like such a bully. many of those watching his televised confession have little sympathy. >> i'd like to think that at some point that he would be forgiven. but the reality is, i think he burned those bridges a long time ago. >> i want to love lance. i still love him, i guess, at heart. but i think it's really shady that he kept this from us for so long. >> reporter: two months ago,
lance armstrong tweeted this picture of himself laying on his couch surrounded by seven yellow tour de france jerseys. at the time, it was another shot of defiance and arrogance. now it looks more like a lonely snapshot of a fallen hero, the last person clinging to a decade of lies. kate, it was interesting leading up to this interview, oprah winfrey had described portions of it as being emotional. i haven't heard of many people who would describe the first night of this interview as emotional in any way. so we'll see if that lives up to the expectations here tonight. kate? >> that same observation watching that interview, any negative impact on livestrong is the real tragedy of this story. ed lavandera in austin, texas, for us. thanks so much. among those watching the oprah interview, tyler hamilton, who rode with armstrong in three tour de france races and wrote the explosive book called "secret race" about doping inside armstrong's team. hamilton talked to cnn's piers morgan. listen.
>> do you feel sorry for him? because he trashed you -- >> oh, yeah. we have a whole history -- >> he just kept trashing you saying it was all lies, you were trying to smear him. >> do i feel sorry for him? yes and no. yes because just watching him last night on tv, i haven't seen him since the last time he approached me in aspen about a year and a half ago. i haven't seen him since then. >> what did he say to you then? >> just some unkind words, that he was going to make my life a living hell both in the courtroom and out. that a federal investigation was going on. >> he was bullying you -- >> i was very angry for those -- for that encounter, for a long time. and scared for a while, too, because he's a powerful guy. i took those words seriously. but still, i'm not a vindictive person.
i don't like to see anybody suffering like that. >> what would you say to him now if you had the chance, if it was just you and him in a room? >> last night on oprah was the first step. pat on your back for that, congratulations, good for you for doing that. it's just a small step. but the first step's the hardest. now you have to continue. the next step is going and testifying in front of usada and the worldwide anti-doping association and doing the right thing, telling the truth, naming names. it's not pleasant but he needs to do it. there are other people involved in this whole fiasco. >> piers is joining us now live. piers, hamilton certainly doesn't seem as angry as a lot of the other folks who were betrayed by lance armstrong. what's your take on hamilton specifically? >> i can't actually hear you, wolf.
i don't know whether you can hear me. >> i hear you fine. can you hear me now? can you hear me, piers? obviously piers is having trouble hearing us. let's see if we can fix that audio. we'll take a quick break. piers will stand by. we'll fix the audio. much more on lance armstrong, the aftermath of that explosive interview with oprah right after this. ry, need a tow or lock your keys in the car, geico's emergency roadside assistance is there 24/7. oh dear, i got a flat tire. hmmm. uh... yeah, can you find a take where it's a bit more dramatic on that last line, yeah? yeah i got it right here. someone help me!!! i have a flat tire!!! well it's good... good for me. what do you think? geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. [ male announcer ] how do you make 70,000 trades a second... ♪ reach one customer at a time?
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♪ hi dad. many years from now, when the subaru is theirs... hey. you missed a spot. ...i'll look back on this day and laugh. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. we've reconnected with piers morgan. he's joining us from new york. you had a pretty good interview over there, piers, with tyler hamilton who was betrayed by lance armstrong. he doesn't seem as angry, i was saying, as some of the others who were totally betrayed by lance armstrong. what's your take on what's going
on? >> i was amazed by how lacking in bitterness or anger tyler hamilton was because he said all this stuff about lance armstrong. and lance armstrong turned on him as he has against everybody who's accused him of doping. he put the arm on him a year and a half ago, met him and said, if you go ahead and testify, i'm going to get you. this is the kind of man you're dealing with. when i hear about lance armstrong making some kind of comeback or getting redemption, he's got a very, very long way to go, wolf. this is a guy who i think -- if you're looking at this dispassionately has been the most systematic and appalling cheat in the history of american sport. >> let's also bring in dr. gail saltz into this conversation. doctor, thanks for coming in. you are an expert on lying.
in watching and listening to this interview that lance armstrong did, what do you make of armstrong's demeanor? do you think he was genuine? do you think he actually was sorry? that's a big part of the conversation today. >> the problem is when people are really good at lying and really pathological liars, especially if it's purposeful, then you can't tell by looking at them whether they're being authentic or not at any moment. and when someone has systematically done something that they now acknowledge is bullying and that they really didn't feel remorseful at that time, so they're sort of guilt-free, devoid of much of an ability to feel guilty or feel empathy, that makes it even more difficult to understand whether they could be authentic at this time or not because people who are missing their moral compass don't necessarily get that back. so you have to wonder if there isn't other gain that they're going for, as opposed to just sort of confessing and coming clean.
that being said, coming clean is the first step toward repair. and so it could be that this is an attempt to repair wrongs. >> i can't tell you how many people, piers, have said to me today, i can't believe a word this guy says, why should we even listen to what he's saying right now? and to that, you say? >> actually i'm not sure we should have to listen to any more of it. it was a brilliant interview by oprah. i thought she was absolutely on top of her game. asked all the questions i would have asked. and lance armstrong emerged, to me, as a kind of sniveling, soulless, unapologetic, storytelling criminal. that's what he is. this is a guy who has sued journalists, a journalist i know in britain called david walsh at "the sunday times" was sued and armstrong won $1 million. and who were the allegations he sued over? that he doped.
we now know when he sued, he knew he was a doper and a cheat. you're not talking about somebody who was just denying things or lying -- let's face it, many public figures, sportsmen have done it over the years. he's a guy who systematically went after people. he bullied, cajoled them, tormented them. we saw the interview on anderson's last night with that poor woman that he terrorized. he's a very nasty piece of work who ran a fraudulent american sporting team for a very, very long time. he coerced younger players, younger cyclists to come in and cheat, too. they were almost rewarded with their bag of cheating goodies, the epo and so on. what you have is a man who i think has defrauded america. >> dr. saltz, exactly what piers is talking about there on this idea of bullying and the fact that he says he was a bully. he was asked about this in the interview. and i want to play you just one clip and ask you about it. listen to this.
>> i was a bully in the sense that i tried to control the narrative. and if i didn't like what somebody said -- and for whatever reasons in my own head, whether i viewed that as somebody being disloyal or a friend turning on you or whoever, i tried to control that. that's a lie, they're liars. >> it's not just that he went after them. he went after them viciously, as piers is saying. what do you make of lance armstrong's response there? >> it seems like a pretty transparent explanation of psychically what went on for him. people who feel insecure and need to control things and want them to go their way sometimes employ the tactic of bullying, especially if issues like integrity aren't that important to them. and they don't feel a lot of empathy and they have an aggressive or sadistic side.
that might be the tactic they choose. unfortunately if no one stops that -- and we know from looking at bullying recently, that you need bystanders to step in and say, hey, that's not okay. but people were so afraid of him, that bystanders didn't really step in and say, you can't do that. so that allows a bully to continue on. and to piers' point of what he's pulled over on america, one thing that's so terrible and destructive about it is we are seeing such a surge in cheating overall in america. it's really epidemic, in high schoolers, in college students. this shows sadly the younger generation, what you can get away with in cheating, how far you can get. and that's a terrible thing and we really -- we need to stop talking specifically about lance armstrong, but we do need to talk about cheating and the importance of having a moral compass and integrity and honesty. and that should count more than fame or fortune and how are we
going to help the next generation to embrace that? >> one of the problems, if i could just jump in on that is the punishment for cheating in american sport -- as it is in other countries -- is unbelievably small, in my view. if you're an olympic athlete and you're caught doping, you may get a two-year ban. you could compete at the next olympics. lance armstrong's game plan is he wants to compete in professional triathlons in the future. he should be banned from any professional sporting competition for the rest of his life in america. this man has earned no right to compete again or win any tournaments or earn any prize money or represent america or anybody else for that matter. when i hear that already he's planning his comeback, i'm like, who will stop this? where does this nonsense end? how many millions of people in america and around the world paid money or their parents paid money to wear his livestrong armbands, which were built on
complete sand? we don't even know now if his cheating, his steroids and doping may have contributed to his getting cancer in the first place. i'd love to know that answer. i'd love to know if he set the whole charity up as a way of covering himself from the systematic cheating because i suspect he did. although he made hundreds of millions of dollars for charity and i applaud anyone that can do that and those chair tis won't be complaining about the money, look at how much money lance armstrong made from his image with that halo on his head of "i'm mr. clean." he made nike commercials with a halo on his head. it's all about the bike. it wasn't about the bike. it was about the drugs and the cheating. >> piers morgan, thanks very much, as usual. we'll see you at 9:00 p.m. eastern later tonight. "piers morgan tonight." dr. gail saltz, thanks to you as well. we're going to have a lot more on this story later this hour. we'll talk with judy smith, an expert in crisis public relations.
two reporters are killed while covering syria's civil war. kate's here. she has that and the other day's top stories. >> french officials confirm the death of a veteran war reporter described as a battlefield junkie. syrian opposition groups say he was killed by government troops in aleppo. and al jazeera's reporter says its reporter was killed by a sniper in daraa province. also philadelphia police have a suspect in custody after a brutal attack on a subway platform. this video is disturbing. the woman in the surveillance video only suffered minor scrapes and bruises after being thrown onto the tracks. her alleged attack faces many charges. police believe the suspect may be mentally unstable.
and controversial scanners that some compared to a virtual strip search will soon be vanishing from u.s. airport checkpoints. the tsa says it will remove all 174 back scatter body scanners by june because the manufacturer was unable to develop software addressing privacy concerns. other less intrusive scanners will, though, however remain in place. other news we're also watching, ahead of the inauguration, the white house has released the new official portrait of president obama. the new picture was shot last month by the official photographer. you can see some big differences from 2009. a little more gray in the hair, as we always point out. he also is standing up and smiling broadly, perhaps knowing he won't have to run for political office ever again. the official portrait. there you go, wolf. >> looks a little older. turning now to a raid that unfolds in large and small cities across the country. a crime that robs women of their freedom and dignity.
>> cracking down on human trafficking is a massive undertaking. cnn's martin savidge got an exclusive inside look at one successful operation. >> reporter: cnn was granted exclusive opportunity to ride along with federal agents as they carried out one of the biggest human trafficking raids here in the south in years. 5:15 a.m., operation dark night is living up to its name. in south savannah and a half dozen other communities in four states, more than 100 federal officers head out to hit 16 different sites at exactly the same time. that's critical because authorities believe all of the locations are linked. agents hope to take down an entire alleged sex slave network in a single blow 25 minutes from now. >> when it comes down to going in, they'll be focused. especially a case like this where they're hoping to rescue someone. >> reporter: because the case involves suspected human trafficking of women, mainly from mexico and nicaragua, it
was fast-tracked over six months. an alphabet soup of agencies take part, homeland security, i.c.e., d.e.a., local authorities, even the u.s. coast guard. >> the transportation took place, correct? >> reporter: the entire cooperation coordinated from a downtown savannah office building. >> there's anticipation. the adrenaline flows and you're really hoping that everybody that you have out there is safe. >> reporter: the teams strike at exactly 6:00 a.m. the entry teams have already gone in. we're simply waiting for the all-clear to go have a closer look. minutes away, i watch authorities lead out the man they said is the prostitution ring leaders and one of the girls he's said to have enslaved. according to the federal indictment, some of the women were forced to have sex with clients 25 to 30 times a day. in apartment, agents find a 10 x 12-foot box constructed of wood and insulation. they believe it's where the woman here was forced to work and live.
even to veteran investigators, it's a new low. >> it drives me insane that these women -- their everyday life would be a hellish nightmare for any individual. i get a little mad sometimes. >> reporter: 12 miles away, another federal team with an arrest warrant pulls into a subdivision full of school buses and children. they're after the other part of the sex slave equation, the alleged customers. >> they are the demand. they are the reason the services is being provided. if there were no johns, there wouldn't be this problem. >> reporter: the suspects in this case will eventually end up in a county jail. but the victims, they'll end up here at a hotel. it's where i find alia waiting for them. she's a special victims assistance specialist. >> i've been working with the victims for about eight years now. >> reporter: hers is perhaps the hardest job, easing these women back into a life of freedom.
>> naturally there's some hesitation because we are complete strangers. there's hesitation because we have affiliated with law enforcement. but our job is to try to build that rapport, try to put them at ease and hopefully be able to assist them and assist the case that we have going on. >> reporter: the operation's over before lunch. at least 50 people are taken into custody and 11 women freed. authorities call it a good day. >> this isn't the end to human trafficking. this is a worldwide phenomenon. and sadly, it goes on as we speak. got to attack it relentlessly, every, every day. >> reporter: as for the women who were rescued, authorities acknowledge that they came into the country illegally but they also know that wasn't their fault. federal investigators say they will be allowed to remain here as long as they want, at least for the foreseeable future. wolf, kate? >> martin savidge, thank you so much. he's known as the jihad prince. we're going to look at the alleged mastermind of the
algeria hostage siege. also, can lance armstrong put his life back together? that's a good question. we'll ask someone who specializes in damage control for celebrities and politicians. she's the real-life inspiration for the tv drama "scandal." woman: we're helping joplin, missouri, come back from a devastating tornado. man: and now we're helping the east coast recover from hurricane sandy. we're a leading global insurance company, based right here in america. we've repaid every dollar america lent us. everything, plus a profit of more than $22 billion. for the american people. thank you, america. helping people recover and rebuild -- that's what we do. now let's bring on tomorrow. if your a man with low testosterone, you should know that axiron is here. the only underarm treatment for low t. that's right, the one you apply to the underarm. axiron is not for use in women or anyone younger than 18. axiron can transfer to others through direct contact. women, especially those who are or who may become pregnant,
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nice sweater. thank you. ♪ let's get some more now on the hostage crisis unfolding in algeria. the militant leader believed to be behind it, the state-run algerian news service reports hundreds of hostages seized at the remote gas field have been freed in an ongoing algerian military operation. but a dozen have reportedly been killed and dozens more remain unaccounted for. cnn's brian todd is joining us now with more on the alleged
mastermind of it all. brian, what are you finding out? >> his name is mokhtar belmokhtar, not well known in the west until now. very well known in northern africa as a militant leader. he's one of the most wanted men in that region, long a target of french and algerian counterterror forces. he's got a lot of nicknames, each one bolstering the image of a seasoned militant. the jihad prince, the unkauchable, mokhtar belmokhtar, the mastermind behind the hostage siege in algeria is one of the most famous militant leaders in north africa. >> mokhtar belmokhtar over the last half decade has emerged as a significant player within the al qaeda fold. >> reporter: this canadian diplomat was held hostage by belmokhtar's cells for months in niger. >> he's got a great scar through his eyebrow, across his eye, down his cheek. >> reporter: those kinds of
battlefield wounds gave him another nickname, the one-eyed. mokhtar belmokhtar, 40 years old, grew up in the deserts of southern algeria. he fought with mujahideen rebels in afghanistan in the early '90s and then participated in a devastated civil war. that group became al qaeda in the islamic maghreb. >> he's called mr. marlboro because of his past with cigarette smuggling, as well as weapons and other paraphernalia. but later on over the past six to seven years, he's also been involved in a lot of hostage takings. >> reporter: a practice which allegedly made belmokhtar millions and made enemies within al qaeda. because his gangster ways didn't live up to the jihadist ideal or made his cohorts jealous, belmokhtar split with the leadership of al qaeda in the islamic maghreb last year.
he formed a commando unit called those who signed this blood, those who launched this hostage taking in algeria. would belmokhtar have tried to kill whatever hostages were left? >> mokhtar belmokhtar has a track record of trying to get something out of every terrorist attack that he carries out. and so just executing hostages has never really been his m.o. >> reporter: and there's a chance that belmokhtar may be wheeling and dealing again. a news agency reports in exchange for american hostages, the militants at that algerian gas facility are demanding the release of aafia siddiqui and of omar abdel rahman, serving a life sentence for plotting the 1993 world trade center attack. there's no way they'll get those people in exchange for those hostages. we'll see what happens. >> is there any indication that belmokhtar has been on the ground at that gas facility in algeria physically leading the operation?
>> reporter: we don't know for sure at this point. but the analysts we spoke to say he's likely not there. he's most likely somewhere in northern mali commanding this operation from afar. analysts say he spent an experienced commando unit to launch this attack, called the "a" team of his group. >> brian todd, thank you for that report. she's an expert in scandal. quite a title. she inspired the tv drama of the very same name. we'll talk to crisis communications expert, judy smith, about the controversy swirling around lance armstrong and manti te'o. let's go. ♪ ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] introducing the all-new cadillac xts... another big night on the town, eh? ...and the return of life lived large.
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lance armstrong's doping confession is the latest in a very, very long line of scandals. and there's a primetime series of the same name about managing these kinds of public relations crises. >> i have enough to arrest her right here, right now. >> you could. but being an upholder of the constitution, you'd need an arrest warrant, wouldn't you? do you have one of those? my white hat is bigger than your white hat. >> judy smith was the person, the inspiration for that very show, a very popular show. she's ceo and president of smith
& company, a crisis communications firm. >> judy, thanks very much for coming in. here's the question -- lance armstrong were your client, how would you grade the interview with oprah? >> that's a tough one, wolf. i think i would probably give him a "c" or a "d." the reason why i say that, admitting that he doped is a good first step. the issue is that the interview, quite frankly, generated more skepticism than sympathy. i think if he was looking to reconstruct his image based on the interview, i think he clearly failed. i think redemption, though, is another story. i think the public will start to turn their attention to not what he says but what he does moving forward. and i think that's going to be critical. >> i want to remind our viewers, judy, how brutal he was in lying over the years. i'm going to play a little clip where he went after his critics.
>> okay. >> to the skeptics, i'm sorry for you, i'm sorry you can't dream big and i'm sorry you don't believe in miracles. i have never doped. >> it's not just simply you don't recall -- >> how many times do i have to say it? >> i'm trying to make sure your testimony is clear. >> i've never taken drugs. >> so what did he do -- if he were your client, what did he need to do last night that he didn't do -- what would you have advised him? >> i think what he didn't do was really show a level of remorse. most people that saw the interview didn't feel that the apology was authentic. they didn't feel like he meant the apology. and so that's caused a lot of concern. and also, too, i think the fact that he was so, as you said, just adamant about, no, i didn't
do it, i didn't do it, and so aggressive and persistent about that issue for so long, that you cannot erase that 12 years of lying in one interview. that's not possible. it's not going to happen. >> judy, i want to ask you about another sports controversy, manti te'o. he's clearly not facing anywhere near the kind of allegations or even the trouble that lance armstrong is facing. but still he is embroiled in the middle of a wild story and wild controversy. what should he do at this point? we haven't really heard from him yet. should he come out and do one big interview? what would your best advice be in this situation? >> yeah, i think the best advice, without knowing all the facts, because all of those issues are still unfolding, i would start with telling the truth because information that's coming out now clearly indicates that all that's been said has not been factually accurate. so, yes, starting with telling
the truth and certainly doing it once, answering all the questions completely would be a good place to start. >> and you've always suggested -- and i think other crisis managers have always suggested you get out in front of the story, don't wait for others to break the bad news. you break the bad news on your terms. obviously lance armstrong should have done that a long time ago. that's a basic bottom-line rule, isn't it? >> it is. it absolutely is, wolf. now both of the athletes that are involved in these scandals have to beat back stories and facts and allegations and all of those that have been framed by other people. the reason why we suggest getting out in front, quite frankly, is you don't want to let other people frame the narrative for you. you want to be in charge of that yourself and frame that based on your own messages and on the facts that you know to be true.
so neither one of those have been successful. neither one of those athletes have been successful at doing that. >> back to lance armstrong for just one moment, do you think he can rehave his reputation? that is a very big question. no matter what other intentions he has in doing this interview, that seems to be one of the things he's trying to do, get back on the right side -- in people's good graces. do you think it's possible? >> i do. i just think it's going to take time. and it depends on what he wants to do. there's been some conversation out there that he wants to get back into sports. i see that as a very long shot. i think that what he needs to focus on is himself and really start to focus on perhaps what he can do for the sport and how he can help clean up the sport. and what value he can add to, quite frankly, all of the kids and millions of people that have looked up to him over the years.
so it's going to take time. it's not an overnight fix, not at all. >> judy smith, as usual, thanks very much for coming in. always has good advice. >> people should listen to her. >> i hope your clients listen to you, judy. >> thank you so much for having me. appreciate it. >> thanks, judy. up next, behind the scenes information on the inauguration. we're going to show you the invitation that the vips are getting. and joe biden, the vice president of the united states certainly provided some comics with material over the years. now the onion is about to take it to a whole new level. we're getting ready to hear from the editor. tdd#: 1-800-345-2550 investors want. tdd#: 1-800-345-2550 like no atm fees, worldwide. tdd#: 1-800-345-2550 and no nuisance fees. tdd#: 1-800-345-2550 plus deposit checks with mobile deposit. tdd#: 1-800-345-2550 and manage your cash and investments tdd#: 1-800-345-2550 with schwab's mobile app. tdd#: 1-800-345-2550 no wonder schwab bank has grown to over 70 billion in assets. tdd#: 1-800-345-2550 so if you're looking for a bank that's in your corner, tdd#: 1-800-345-2550
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this is cnn breaking news. >> we have breaking news coming into "the situation room." cnn has now confirmed one american has in fact been killed in algeria. let's bring in our foreign affairs correspondent jill dougherty at the state department. >> that's about the fact that we do know, one american has died. and that the family has been notified. and that really is it.
we don't know precisely when that per died, we don't know the circumstances. this continues to be a very unclear situation, how many total died, how many people are out, et cetera. but we can confirm, according to a u.s. official, that a senior official, that one american is unfortunately dead. we also believe that this operation in some fashion or other is continuing. as we've been reporting all along, a lot of information, very, very unclear. wolf? >> we also, i understand we've learned that the family of that deceased american, the american killed in algeria, has now been notified. we're getting more information, we'll bring it to our viewers as soon as we get it. jills, thanks very, very much.
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[ male announcer ] don't just reject convention. drown it out. introducing the all-new 2013 lexus ls f sport. an entirely new pursuit. fast! [ male announcer ] stop the uh-oh fast with kaopectate. he's been a favorite subject for years. now on the satirical newspaper "the onion" is out with an e-book about him. "the president of vice." the autobiography of joe biden. "the onion" editor will tracy is here to talk about it. thanks for coming in. why joe biden?
>> well, i think that there's something about joe biden and our coverage of him that people recognize. he's one of these very comfortable in his own skin. he's a major american figure and that's why we felt this book was important. that's why we asked the vice president to write this book for us. and he made the book, sort of a summary of his major life accomplishments and his career accomplishments, including the first beer he ever drank, his sexual education at the hands of his high school principal, the time he took drugs in a new mexico december cert and met god. we wanted the book to be a well-rounded portrait of who he is and i think that's the book he turned in to us. >> i want to remind some of our viewers, some of the fun that you've poked at joe biden over the years. clearly a lot of material to work with. here's one of the headlines. "biden says, life better than it was four years ago but nothing can change summer of '87." "joe biden hitchhikes to democratic national convention."
"biden asks white house visitor if he wants to check out roof." i remember this one, "shirtless biden washes trans am am white house driveway." "joe biden shows up to inauguration with ponytail." that would be darn sure breaking news. do you think you have been hard on him or see the low-hanging fruit? >> no, i think this is -- the book is an accurate reflection of who he is as a person. he wrote the book for us. he was primarily concerned with his advance. but he did turn in the book. he reportedly wrote it in about eight or nine hours. under the influence of some recreational substances. but i think we're very happy with the book. he's happy with the book. and i hope the american people all read it and appreciate really what a stellar individual he is. >> here's a question. is "the onion" ready to endorse joe biden for 2016? >> i think it's an inevitability
that he will be the president one day. and so, yes, we will endorse him. we will -- i think he would probably be one of our phonest presidents. he is sort of the "every man" in a way. i think most americans can look at him and relate to him. >> you know, occasionally, and this is fascinating, some of your stories are sent out all over the world and some people out there take them seriously. i'll give you a couple of examples, and will, you're familiar with these. an iranian news agency took this story as a real one. "gallup poll, real whites prefer ahmadinejad to obama." a chinese newspaper believed this as a real award for kim jong-un, leader of north korea, "kim jong-un name the onion's sexiest man alive for 2012." how much of a problem is this for "the onion," that there's some folks out there who actually take your stuff very, very seriously and literally?
>> well, they should. what we're printing, of course, is the truth. we are the number one paper of record in america. we are the most powerful media organization probably in the world at this point. so i don't really see why any human being would want to get information from any source other than "the onion." that's exactly what we want to happen. >> it's an e-book "the president of vice: the autobiography of joe biden." will tracy, visit us here in "the situation room." from time to time. >> absolutely, love to be back, thank you. >> thank you very much. >> he can keep a straight face, that was very good. i clearly am not as good at that. we have here in our very hands, i hope you see it. >> we've got more too. this is the program. >> this is the official invitation. hold it up, vanna. well done. sent to vip members of congress and the official program which was a history, also has a history of the united states capitol inside plus the program of events, of course